According to PC Magazine’s 18th annual Reader Satisfaction Survey (http://www.pcmag.com/sr), on newsstands September 6, 2005, more people are turning to the Web to solve problems with their PCs and printers, and beginning to turn away from phone support. Despite this shift, computer users are happier with their PCs and manufacturers support services overall than they were a year ago, though there’s still room for improvement.

Ziff Davis Media’s PC Magazine surveyed nearly 14,000 subscribers — technology influencers, consumers and business professionals — and asked them to describe their experiences with the desktops, notebooks, and printers that they use. They rated over 26,000 PCs and over 19,000 printers, including products used in the home and at work. Readers were asked to evaluate the following categories in the satisfaction survey: overall satisfaction, product reliability, quality and frequency of repairs, initial setup experience, hardware and software reliability and technical support including tech support professional’s ability to communicate and understand the problem.

“It’s good to see companies offering better online support, but there’s clearly room for improvement in phone-based support,” says Michael J. Miller, Editor-in-Chief of PC Magazine in the press release. “In particular, many readers complained about technicians who were hard to understand, or who didn’t seem to understand the problem.”

According to the survey, overall satisfaction with desktops and notebooks — as well as satisfaction with their reliability is very good but people are less satisfied with the quality of technical support and repair services of PC manufacturers.

PC owners are increasingly turning away from the phone and toward the Internet for tech support. This year, 69% of computer users used the telephone for tech support, down significantly versus a year ago, at 80%, This year, computer users are using the Web for support, including online FAQs, knowledge bases, download centers, 30% of the time; a year ago people they only used Web support 18% of the time.

While nearly all the vendors in the survey received overall ratings from customers in the “very good” range, four companies — Apple, Dell, Sony and survey newcomer Alienware — scored the highest, winning the coveted PC Magazine Readers’ Choice Award. Apple received the overall highest satisfaction rating due, in part, to its integration of its computer systems and the fact that Macs attract far fewer viruses than Windows machines. Among the major manufacturers of Windows PCs, Dell’s desktops received its 14th PC Magazine Readers’ Choice Award in 15 years, showing improvement in tech support versus year ago. Sony earned impressive satisfaction rates for desktops and newcomer Alienware scored an impressive overall rating of 8.8 for their cutting-edge, gaming machines.

MacDailyNews Note: Apple Macs running Mac OS X do attract far fewer viruses than Windows machines: zero (0) viruses to date, in fact.

Apple and Lenovo/IBM scored the highest among notebook users in the notebook category — earning them a PC Magazine Readers’ Choice Award. Apple users gave the company an 8.6 rating for satisfaction with tech support and 8.3 for satisfaction with repairs, both very impressive results. Lenovo/IBM scored well in reliability, better than average (8.5) and performed well in both the business and home market.

The 18th annual reader satisfaction survey covers desktop PCs, notebooks and printers. The survey gauges the satisfaction on a variety of measures including reliability and service experiences with the products PC Magazine subscribers are using and the companies who make these products. PC Magazine conducted the survey from June 14, 2005 to June 28, 2005. Subscribers to PC Magazine and pcmag.com were invited through by email and through a link posted in the magazine. PC Magazine accepted only one entry per subscriber and only subscribers could participate. Equation Research (http://www.equationresearch.com) hosted the survey and tabulated the results. PC Magazine asked respondents about the desktop, notebooks and printers that they currently using at work and home.

PC Magazine excluded any company for which they did not receive at least 50 responses, the minimum number necessary to produce statistically reliable results. Only PCs less than four years old were considered. Each company’s scores for each question were compared against the average of all the companies’ scores in the same product category. The result is characterized as better or worse than average, or significantly better or worse than average, based on the statistical testing of the responses to a 95% confidence level.

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple Computer products top PC Magazine’s annual ‘Best of the Year’ survey – December 16, 2004
Apple Macs top PC Magazine’s ’17th Annual Reader Satisfaction Survey’ – August 10, 2004
Apple leads PC Magazine’s 16th annual Service and Reliability Survey – July 10, 2003